Problem not with farm laws, but with protesters: Tomar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 05, 2021

Narendra Singh Tomar, Agriculture Minister   -  PTI

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar defended the three farm reforms laws, that farmers have been protesting against, in the Rajya Sabha on Friday and said the “Centre does not play with the blood of farmers”.

Intervening in the debate on the motion of thanks for the President’s address, he said the protesting farmers are being misled by vested interests saying that the new farm laws are framed with an eye the land of farmers.

Tomar said since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power, a number of measures have been taken for farmers. He said they can now use cold storages and other infrastructure facilities and even Railway’s facilities are being used as cold storages to help farmers and over 21 lakh farmers have been covered under a pension scheme.

He said the protesting farmers and the Opposition have failed to make him understand the problems with the three farm laws. “They are calling these Acts black laws. What is black in these laws? I have been trying to know this from farmers and Opposition so that we can correct it. But none have told us about how these laws are against farmers,” he said.

He said under the new Acts, the trade areas have been defined. “There are taxes of States and Centre on APMCs. We have done away with the central tax. State governments are still taking tax. The protests should be against State governments. But they are targeting the Centre,” he said.

‘Protesters misled’

He said the Centre tried to address the issues of protesting farmers with utmost transparency and appreciated their stand. “There are no problems with the three farm laws. But there are problems with the protests. They are being misled by saying that their land will be taken away. There is not even a clause in the contract farming act that suggests such an action. We don’t play politics with the blood of farmers,” he said.

He said the amendments in the Contract Farming Act will help farmers to get remuneration from traders for their efforts. He said contract farming acts of Haryana and Punjab have provisions to send erring farmers to jail. “But the Act of Centre protects the interests of farmers,” he said and added that the intention of the Centre is to bring transparency in food grains trade and ensure adequate remuneration for farmers.

Opposition unconvinced

The Opposition, however, continued to attack the three farm laws and the way the Centre handles the protesters. In his speech, Congress MP from Punjab Pratap Singh Bajwa urged the Prime Minister to rise to the level of a statesman and announce the repealing of the three farm laws. Narrating the attacks he and his family had to face from Khalistani supporters during the time of insurgency, he said it is wrong to call the farmers as terrorists.

He reiterated that the farm laws are death warrants for the farmers. He said the police presence at the protest sites resembled countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Uganda which faced dictators. “You are erecting barbed if Berlin Wall is being built...You are giving Delhi borders the shape of concentration camps,” he said.

“You brand us as Khalistanis...anti-nationals...Don’t teach us nationalism. Every month a child from Punjab and Haryana returns home wrapped in the tricolour...Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his life to protect Kashmiri Brahmins...My brother, a brigadier at 192 Mt Brigade, led the victory to Tiger Hill,” he said.

“You claim that you will keep the laws in abeyance for 18 months. If you are ready to keep it in abeyance then why not repeal it...Go to Delhi’s borders. I will take the farmers and tell them you will repeal the Bills...become a statesman and win farmers’ have been PM twice,” he added.

Published on February 05, 2021

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